|African Ancestry in
When the government of the United States established the Mississippi Territory in 1798, the region around Natchez, which held the bulk of the population, contained about 5,000 whites and 3,500 slaves. Upon entering the union in 1817, Mississippi received slavery as a fully established economic and agricultural system. With the exception of the interior of the Delta region, which remained largely isolated and unsettled until after the Civil War, Mississippi by 1850 had been formed as illustrated by this county map.
In 1817 Mississippi had a population of about 40,000 whites and 30,000 African Americans. By 1860 African Americans made up 50% of Mississippi's total population of approximately 791,000 people. The African American's place was solidly established, regulated by legal codes and fueled by the institution of slavery.
At the time of its admission only the southern quarter and a narrow strip up the Mississippi to the Yazoo were open to legal settlement. The rest of the state was held by the Chickasaw and Choctow nations. By 1835 these Indian nations had lost all claims to their territory. An increasing flow of newcomers to the southern and eastern sections of the territory, mainly from Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, and the region above Mobile began to arrive. Those who arrived with sufficient capital quickly took possession of the better dark-soil lands and established plantations, leaving the cheaper uplands for those of lesser means. The French first introduced slavery into the Mississippi territory in the early 1700 and the English, who later settled into the territory, were eager purchasers of slaves.
The African American population was concentrated in the sections where the agricultural plantation was most prominent. The general feeling in the state was that their labor was essential to maintaining the plantation economy, and the African American would work only as a slave.*
Large numbers of slaves lived permanently in town, serving in a wide variety of occupations. In addition to the house servants, there were mechanics, draymen, hostlers, laborers, and washwomen. Some served as apprentices or helpers to white mechanics and builders, or worked in small factories catering to the local market.
Free African Americans living in Mississippi reached their greatest number around 1840, when the census listed 1,336, and they declined steadily, numbering only 775 in 1860. A majority were in the southwestern counties, with 255 in Adams County alone.
In 1860, during the last years of institutionalized slavery, African Americans in Mississippi numbered 437,303, compared with 353,901 whites. They were owned by 30,943 slaveholders, who possessed an average of 14.1 slaves each. The great mass who were of working age were field hands. Relatively small numbers had received special training as artisans or house servants.
Although slavery was abolished in 1865, African Americans living in Mississippi and throughout the south continued to be ruled by codes, institutionalized segregation. and the torment of the Ku Klux Klan.
*Click here to explore Mississippi plantation life. Indepth archealogical studies were conducted by the University of Southern Mississippi on six plantations throughout the state. Including the McCallum farm located in Forrest county and Saragossa plantation located Natchez district
State & Local Resources
Archives & Libraries
National Archives, Southeast Region,1557 St. Joseph Ave.East Point, GA 30344, Phone (404)763-7477, Fax (404)763-7033, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org States include: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee
Evans Memorial Library, 105 N. Long St., Aberdeen, MS 39730
MS State Dept of Archives & History, PO Box 571, Jackson, MS 39762, Phone (601)359-6876, Fax (601)359-4263
MS State University, Mitchell Memorial Library, Drawer 9570, Mississippi State, MS 39762, Phone (601)325-3061, Fax (601)325-4263
University of Southern Mississippi, William David McCain Library, PO Box 5148, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5148, Phone (601)266-4345
Jackson-Regional Library, 3214 S. Pascagoula St., Pascagoula, MS 39567
Mississippi Genealogical Society, PO Box 5301, Jackson, MS 39216-5301
Family Research Association of Mississippi, PO Box 13334, Jackson, MS 39236-3334
Jackson County Genealogical Society, c/o Else J. Martin, 6301 Country Lane, Pascagoula, MS 39581
Southern Mississippi Genealogical Society, 72 Boggy Hollow Rd., Purvis, MS 39475
Historical & Genealogical Association of Mississippi, 618 Avalon Rd., Jackson, MS 39206
Mississippi Baptist Historical Society, Mississippi College Library, PO Box 51,Clinton, MS 39056
J. B. Cain Archives of Mississippi Methodism, Millsaps-Wilson Library, Millsaps College, Jackson, MS 39210
The sites listed below are among the best resources on the internet for researching African American Ancestry in Mississippi
An Adams County Mississippi Slave Record Book - Includes a historic overview of recently discovered Natchez court records documenting over 1500 slave names and owners.
Freedmen's Bureau On Line *Includes registered African American marriages in Mississippi 1863-1865
Genealogy Sites for Southern States Includes cemetary, church, marriage, tax & census records for Alcorn, Carroll, and Itawamba counties
*Post a Query
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Linda Rudd, Census & Vital Statistic Records for Lincoln County, LRudd@aol.com
Darlene Williams, Kemper County 1860 Slave Schedule. DWilli4162@aol.com The schedule list slaveowners & number of slaves.
Volunteers are needed for lookups and research. If you have resources and the time, please contact me with your name, email, and the resource(s) you have access to. Thank You...GJM
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